Many many years ago, I remember sitting in our cold Scottish manse and reading A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth . It transported me to a country that I had not yet visited; I have since visited India even though it was a very brief trip. I am not sure I enjoyed the book as I don’t remember the story very much. The book wasn’t an easy read; I think it had 19 parts to it! The small print on the paperback copy added to the difficulty.
Since we don’t own a television, we did not get to watch the BBC mini series of the same name when it aired in 2020. However, in the middle of September, I got an email from Britbox informing me that the mini series is now available to us Britbox subscribers!
We have since watched the whole series and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Surprisingly, I found it very relaxing. I also understand the story a little better now.
It is worth watching if you have not already watched it!
On Monday evening, I was trying to pay OVO, our energy supplier and British Telecom over the Vicarage telephone. Unusually, I was successful with OVO but not so with British Telecom; there was an automated message saying that due to the global social media outage, they were unable to accept payment. I was intrigued. How can the social media outage be related to this?
Anyway, I was keen to complete my Ocado shopping online so didn’t think anymore about it until I had difficulty accessing Ocado!!!! Every time I logged in, there was an error message giving me a telephone number to call. Those living in the UK will understand my reluctance to ring any customer service number because it would have just meant that there might be nobody to answer due to Covid19 (favourite excuse).
It was only then that the penny dropped; it is the social media outage that has caused this. Oh dear! Does that mean I am going to end up with just one bottle of whisky??? You see, my shopping list is not always ready when I book the delivery slot and so I just add a Johnny Walker green label costing £40 which is the minimum amount required to the basket. Before anybody accuses me of hoarding shopping slots; please “hear” me out. I only book one slot and it is always for delivery in the next 5 days. 😁
The good news is I was eventually able to access Ocado’s website and the first thing I did was to remove the whisky bottle from the basket!!!
I almost had a kitchen disaster last week while preparing to entertain a senior cleric. Regular readers will observe that these days I am often in the company of senior clerics!!!😀
The Mhinisteir was due to have a meeting with him at the Vicarage and since we all had to eat, we invited him to join us for lunch. I had only seen him from a distance at the cathedral so was delighted when he agreed to join us.
The lunch menu consisted of carrot and coconut soup, roast chicken sandwich, mini blinis with cream cheese and Scottish smoked salmon, chocolate cake and shortbread. All made by own fair hands!
I decided to prepare the soup a day in advance and as I set out my ingredients, I realised I had run out of chicken stock. Thankfully, I had Marigold organic bouillon powder but I had never used it before to make soup as previously I had only used either homemake stock or Kallo organic stock.
As per instructions, I put 4 tablespoons of the bouillon powder in a measuring jug. Just as I was about to pour some boiling water to make up the stock, it dawned on me that I had almost half a tin of bouillon powder in the measuring jug. I thought to myself that surely it can’t be right and decided to read the instructions again. 4 TEASPOONS not tablespoons!!!!! Oh my goodness, what a disaster it would have been!!!
Anyway, the soup turned out beautifully. The lunch too appear to have been a great success based on the thank you note we received.
After having lived in so many different parts of the world for most of my adult life, I find myself having lost my original accent. These days, I often get mistaken for a South African! South Africa is a country that I have never visited before so how I ended up sounding like a South African is a mystery. I would love to visit it one day though!
I used to speak with a gentle Scottish lilt but its now gone. It reminds me of the time when I used to go to a hairdresser in Glasgow. Barry spoke like someone from down south and so I mistook him for an Englishman until one day when he told me that he was born and brought up in Glasgow. His mother who ran the salon spoke like a true Glaswegian. Of course, I didn’t know she was his mother until much later! Anyway, how did he get the accent then? He had spent 5 years working in Manchester!!!!
The Mhinisteir was covered in dog hair when he came back home yesterday. He had been out visiting a few of his parishioners in their homes. He wasn’t amused for he dislikes both cats and dogs!
At dinner, he told me that he struggled to focus in the house with the dogs for the smell of dogs was so great. According to him, this was even after the dogs had left. Poor him! The things you have to do if you are a Vicar!!!
It reminded me of an incident in the Highlands of Scotland when we both had visited the home of a parishioner. ML was a spinster and her pets meant a great deal to her but her house smelt of dogs. I started throwing up violently the moment I stepped out of the house because the smell of dogs was so offensive.
I know many rural people have pets but we don’t. The Vicarage is both the place of work and home and we are of the view that it will be insensitive to have pets especially if someone coming to the Vicarage has an allergy.
As for me, I am neither a cat nor a dog lover. I don’t mind dogs from a distance but they must be on a lead. At one point, I even contemplated a wee chocolate Labrador for company. That might just have been possible if the Labrador promised to remain wee and more importantly if we had a housekeeper.
As for cats, I don’t understand them. They appear unfriendly and I find them intimidating as they remind me of tigers!
Our holiday started on Monday but we didn’t leave the Vicarage until 3pm. The hairdresser was booked to come in at lunchtime so we decided to go ahead with it. The appointment with BT was meant to be on that day too but as usual they messed up. More about BT in another post.
Our holiday destination was to the famous English city where we used to live. The purpose of the holiday was so that the Mhinisteir could get a few things done like taking our trusty old car for an MOT and a service. We prefer to take our car to our old garage in Scotland but these days it is just not practical. This appointment was booked ages ago but on the day of our travel, when the Mhinisteir rang them, the garage couldn’t find it and the owner with whom the Mhinisteir usually deals with was on holiday! Thankfully, just before we left the Vicarage, the garage phoned back to say that we should bring the car in as scheduled! Hallelujah!
We arrived at our little self catering cottage around dinner time. We had stayed there a decade ago! The cottage was squeaky clean and I appreciated their Covid-19 safeguarding measures which included no physical contact. We just had to take the keys to the cottage from a key safe.
We took a slow walk into the city centre as we needed to get dinner but also wanted to reminisce. Sadly, the city has gone down quite a bit. I didn’t like being harassed by touters. I suggested a nice Thai restaurant for dinner. I am still not comfortable dining in so it was going to be a take away. Needless to say that the food was lovely. They even took 20% off from our bill which was totally unexpected but much appreciated! I had my usual spice free Pad Thai while the Mhinisteir had something fiery. The portions were super generous that the leftovers ended up as another meal! Not complaining though! 😀
I spent most of my time either inside or outside the cottage catching up on my reading. As for the Mhinisteir, on top of the car business, he had a dental appointment one day and he also got to meet his friend for lunch at The Ivy the next! The car couldn’t be serviced as they didn’t have enough workmen but the car pass did the MOT!!!!!!
We both managed to sleep well every single night which was bliss.
A strange incident happened on the afternoon after the Mhinisteir had been to The Ivy with his friend. Shortly after he arrived back at the cottage and as he was removing his socks, I noticed that one of his toe was covered in blood! The Mhinisteir hadn’t noticed it until I had pointed out to him. His sock too was covered in blood. Thankfully it was nothing serious but just a cut. How he got it is a mystery!
All in all, we had a super holiday compared to our last one!
Recently, I received an email notification from Britbox to say that they have now added to their list, Monarch of the Glen, a Scottish drama about a young laird trying to restore his childhood home called the Glenbogle house.
I was elated! The Mhinisteir and I used to watch this as part of our downtime. We enjoyed it so much that we wanted to watch it again. Sadly, my joy was short lived as Britbox have only added the first two series of the drama instead of all the series!!!! What a dampener!
I have since discovered that they have done exactly the same to another Scottish drama called Take the High Road.
As I entered our ancient church building for Sunday service, there was a certain buzz in the air. Rural churches are usually more OAP heavy and there tend to be more women than men. Our churches aren’t any different. We do have a handful of young people but they were not in church yesterday. I quickly gathered that the reason for the buzz was obviously the football match later that evening. I was very surprised as I wasn’t expecting that at all.
Since moving to England, I have never come across such excitement in church but then England have never qualified to the final of a men’s football tournament in many years.
I have never experienced this in Scotland either albeit for a different reason. There the people that I encountered in church felt that they shouldn’t be talking about “unholy” things on the Sabbath. Sadly, it was difficult to get them to talk about sports on other days too. The men I knew loved football. Rangers to be precise but felt that they couldn’t declare their love for football. I think it is very sad when one has to suppress their feelings in order to be religious! No wonder the heathen thinks that the God of the bible is a monster!
Anyway, back to our parishioners….. There was a 90 year old lady who was wearing England’s colour (Red and White). She looked so cute!!! In fact, there were quite a few of the ladies in red and white. I spoilt the party by turning up in something totally different!!!!!
Sadly, England lost the game but I will remember 11 July 2021 for a very long time because of the lovely buzz that I experienced in church that Sunday!!!!
Recently, I have discovered a new pastime. I never thought that I would enjoy my new hobby this much but I have surprised myself. For health reasons, I am not able to commit more than half an hour each day and even that it can only be on good days.
I have always enjoyed a tidy garden but have NEVER spent any time tending to it. It is just not my thing(neither the Mhinisteir’s). We have always paid someone to cut the grass and keep it tidy.
In any case, in a place like the Scottish highlands, you would only want to be in the garden if you want to be eaten alive by the midges!!!! For those who are not familiar with midges. You can read about them here. If it is not the midges than it is the weather. We rarely got good weather in the summer.
Until some weeks ago, I had never done weeding in my whole life.
We are having the same problem with our gardener as with our cleaner (same company!). As mentioned before, I like things to look tidy.
Our garden was beginning to look messy and that was when I decided to take matters into my own hands. We tried getting in touch with other gardeners but none was available.
At that time, I only had a pair of secateurs. I have since added a weed fork, rake, lopper and the most recent purchase is a pair of shears. It has taken me a whole month to figure out how the weed fork and rake worked! Being left handed doesn’t aid anything!
Ever since I started doing very gentle tidying up of the garden, I feel wonderful and can’t believe how much I enjoy it. Needless to say that the garden is looking wonderful too. However, I stop at tidying. I have no desire to plant or grow anything.